Romantic Castle Weddings

Every bride dreams of a romantic, fairytale wedding, and some are willing to make the fantasy a reality by holding the event at an actual castle. Once upon a time castle weddings meant a trip to England; today, weddings can be held at castles across the globe -- even in the United States -- at lavish locales. Brides and grooms can play the role of royalty: arriving by horse-drawn carriage, holding cocktail hour on a candlelit terrace overlooking bucolic landscapes, dancing in a real ballroom and even capping off the evening with their own fireworks display.

From North Carolina to Italy, see our picks for the most wedding-worthy castles.

1. Sudeley Castle

Jim Brodie, flickr
Make like Prince William and Duchess Kate with a wedding at a true British castle. Described as "the most romantic castle in England" by The Times of London, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire has more than 1,000 years of history under its storied belt and lies in the midst of 1,200 acres on the picturesque Cotswold Hills. Romantic, 15th-century ruins dot the property, providing a dreamy backdrop for wedding photos.

The castle features 3 unique outdoor sites at which to hold your wedding, each with views of the castle, ruins and surrounding hills: Brides can choose from among the North Lawn, which holds 500 guests and overlooks a barn, gardens and carp pond; the Hop Field, which can also accommodate a large number of guests; or the smaller Mulberry Lawn, named for the centuries-old mulberry trees that border it. The castle also offers indoor venues as well, including the medieval Banqueting Hall, complete with roaring fire, armor, banners and a flagstone floor. For a more intimate reception, try the Private Library; filled with tapestries, leather-bound books, antiques and art, it holds 25 people. The castle will recommend trusted suppliers, and will strive to create a personalized, bespoke experience for each wedding.

2. Chateau de Challain

banlon1964, flickr
Your wedding will unfold like a magical French fairytale at the magnificent Chateau de Challain. The majestic 19th-century castle sits on the edge of the bucolic village Challain-la-Potherie, in the Loire Valley of western France; this idyllic country setting and neo-Gothic exterior of white towers and spires have made it a popular destination wedding venue. The castle's 5 floors and 120 rooms also feature neo-Gothic decor, complete with wood sculptures, enormous fireplaces, Gothic paneling and detailed ceiling paintings that will make even the most steadfast of brides swoon.

The castle employs an on-site wedding coordinator to ensure every detail of your special day is perfectly executed, and brides and grooms will enjoy the services of the castle's hair and makeup specialists. In addition to the standard wedding events, such as the service, cocktail hour, dinner and entertainment, the Chateau also presents a number of unique add-ons to your wedding package, such as fireworks, harp music, a jazz band, period reenactors from France’s La Belle Époque (“Beautiful Era”) and even a local artist who will paint personalized watercolors of your wedding day. The castle also serves as a bed-and-breakfast, so all guests can sleep on the premises.

3. Castello di Vincigliata

BazzaDaRambler, flickr
You'll be singing, "That's amore!" all the way down the flower-strewn aisle at the breathtaking Castello di Vincigliata in Fiesole, Italy. Just minutes from Florence, this medieval castle embodies all the romance of which wedding dreams are made, perched as it is on a rocky hill overlooking the rolling Tuscan Valley and Italian towns below.

The castle fell into disrepair in the 17th century, then restored by an English lord in the 19th century in a dramatic, Gothic Revival-style architecture. Brides can make their fantasy wedding a reality by setting their ceremony and cocktail hour outdoors in the perfectly manicured garden and terrace, then plan dinner in the candle- and torch-lit castle courtyard. Afterward, plan for dancing in the garden, capped off at evening's end with a brilliant fireworks display.

4. Biltmore Estate

Perry Quan, flickr
Do you want a castle wedding, but not the added expense of traveling overseas? Follow in the footsteps of America's royalty, the Vanderbilt family, and head to Asheville, NC, where you'll find George Vanderbilt's 250-room, French Renaissance chateau, the Biltmore Estate. The mansion and its surrounding 8,000 acres could hardly be more lavish or lush. Brides-to-be will be hard-pressed to imagine a dreamier reception setting.

The sprawling estate offers several locations where the wedding banquet can be held, including the Lioncrest ballroom, with vaulted ceiling, antique exposed wooden beams and wrought-iron chandeliers, or outdoors, in the gardens surrounding the marble statue of the goddess Diana, with views of the stunning estate and picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Couples can also orchestrate the event so they arrive at the property via horse-drawn carriage, followed by cocktails on the Library Terrace, and dinner and dancing in the Stable Courtyard and Gardens adjacent to the estate. As if your wedding weren't entertainment enough, guests can also take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the estate, including a 90-minute motor coach tour of the property, or a private wine tasting at the Biltmore winery.

5. Larnach Castle and Gardens

chee.hong, flickr
Sure, New Zealand might be a long flight away, but the rewards of booking your wedding at the outrageously gorgeous Larnach Castle far outweigh the time spent getting here. One of the few houses of its scale in New Zealand (it was built in the late 1800s by a leading entrepreneur and politician of the era), the mansion is set high up on a ridge along the Otago Peninsula, overlooking the spectacular Otago Harbor and green, rolling hills.

Naturally, the castle and its gardens provide a picturesque backdrop for a wedding, and of course, the wedding photos: The ceremony can be held in the midst of the castle gardens, or by the reflecting pool, with Dunedin City visible in the distance. After tying the knot, the wedding party and guests can head to the castle terrace for a cocktail, then saunter into the castle ballroom for the reception, enjoying its twinkling chandeliers, roaring fireplace and opulent, Victorian furnishings.

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